EXCLUSIVE: HPD cracks down on police abuse

Published: Oct. 21, 2014 at 3:01 AM HST|Updated: Oct. 21, 2014 at 8:35 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The videotape beating of a bystander by a Honolulu police officer has prompted a crackdown on bad behavior within the HPD's elite crime reduction units.

Surveillance video caught Kalihi CRU officer Vincent Morre punching, kicking and throwing a chair at a man while Morre was trying to serve an arrest warrant for another man at a game room near Kapiolani Boulevard. Moore is now on desk duty and faces an FBI investigation into possible civil rights violations.

Shortly after video surfaced last month, the HPD called members of all eight of its CRU teams at police headquarters where Deputy Chief Marie McCauley told officers that that kind of behavior won't be tolerated.

HPD officials are now requiring CRU officers to attend refresher classes on search and seizure and to read manuals on the use of force and arrest procedures.

"The fact is the CRU units appear to be lacking in accountability. There have been repeated problems within the CRU," said attorney Myles Breiner, who represents the man struck by Morre.

"There's been a history of problems with the CRU units."

Breiner also represents singer Johnny Helm who was mistaken for a home invasion suspect while hiking near Wilhelmina Rise in 2012.

Helm was then allegedly beaten by several CRU members and when they realized they had the wrong man, the CRU members dumped Helm off in Palolo instead of taking him to a hospital.

Breiner also has sued the HPD on behalf of a Hauula man -- Jonah Kaahu -- who was violently arrested by several CRU members and spent nine months in jail.

The suit alleged HPD officers mistook Kaahu for several men that were allegedly threatening his workplace. A state judge later threw out Kaahu's arrest, citing police misconduct.

Hawaii News Now has learned that 50 to 60 of these specialized CRU officers were ordered to undergo retraining last month.

And during that meeting Deputy Chief McCauley reissued guidelines requiring officers to attend classes on search and seize and to reread manuals on the use of force and arrest procedures.

"There are a number of standards of conduct that they expect from officers to abide by if they don't they'll be removed from the CRU unit or possibly terminated," Breiner said.

Police sources say they can't remember when all eight CRU units were summoned to HPD headquarters but expert said that's the right thing to do to make sure problems don't get worse.

Greg Meyer, a retired captain with the Los Angeles Police Department and a national expert on the use of force, said police departments will often issue reminders or reissue guidelines when some controversial like this happens.

Teams like the CRU units tend to be highly specialized officers who are called on to the arrest some of the most dangerous criminals.

"They start to feel special sometimes and they have to be reminded, hey, our arrest policies and our use of force polices... apply to you just like everybody else," Meyer said.

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